District prepares for possible H1N1 outbreak
With classes starting next week in De Soto’s USD 232, school officials are taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
The De Soto district recently launched a new Web site to give patrons and community members up-to-date information on the virus and up-coming flu season.
Alvie Cater, district director of communications for the district, said the staff was focusing on prevention and symptoms of the flu.
“We are telling working parents to have a back-up plan,” he said. “What will you do if your children have the flu.”
Last spring the De Soto district’s Riverview Elementary School had five confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus before the county health department ceased testing for the strain.
“The last count was five confirmed cases, but since then in our community there was no way to know for sure how many cases there were. We could have had a lot more,” Cater said.
On Aug. 5, the district learned of new guidelines suggested by the Center for Disease Control on how to deflect the spread of the virus.
Shelby Rebeck, district nursing coordinator, said the guidelines did away with the previous seven-day and sibling exclusions.
Students with symptoms can return to school once they have been fever free for 24-hours with out the aide of fever reducing medicines, Rebeck said.
Previously, students with symptoms and their siblings were to stay home from school for seven days or until symptoms subsided.
The CDC also recommends separating students who become ill during the school day from others, including staff.
Rebeck said the district was taking precautions to isolate students in a separate room and provide a mask for those students until arrangement can be made with parents.
The district will also focus on prevention through proper hand washing and coughing etiquette.
“The principals have met with the nurses and the front office staff to spread the word that right now what the county is recommending is that we just get the word out how to prevent it (the virus) through good hand washing, not touching the eyes, nose or mouth, to cough into a tissue and wash hands immediately and to remind staff to use the same precautions,” Rebeck said.
The district’s Web resource dedicated to the H1N1 virus prevention will have a link to district nurses’ Web site to answer any questions.
“We had two efforts at one time. Last year, the nurses created a Web site — a health services Web site. We had created it to go live this year and, with the H1N1 site, created a live linked to the health services site,” she said.
The nurses’ site covers a wide-range of topics related to health in schools, from new vaccination requirements to questions about the district’s medication policy, Rebeck said.
“I think anytime you give parents the heads up — that these are the preventative measures (and) here’s what to look for and what to do — you are already a step ahead of the game,” Rebeck said. “As far as controlling this illness, H1N1 is contagious 24-hours before showing the fever. It’s difficult to control, and it’s going to spread.
“The social distancing and washing hands helps. But we’re in a public setting. We’ve done as much as we can do. And we have to see how hard it hits us in the fall when students are back.”